With tensions rising in the Middle East following the killing of a prominent Iranian military figure, the U.S. Soccer Federation called off a men’s national team training camp scheduled to open this weekend in Qatar.
“Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar,” the USSF said in a written statement. “We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality.”
The 25-player delegation was to train at Aspire Academy in Doha until Jan. 25 before returning to Los Angeles to play Costa Rica in a Feb. 1 friendly in Carson, Calif.
Late Friday, the USSF announced training camp would take place in Bradenton, Fla. The national teams typically gather in Carson.
However, the federation changed course this winter and suggested Qatar to experience the facilities and weather conditions in the small Persian Gulf nation that will host the next FIFA World Cup, in November-December 2022.
While in Qatar, the MLS-heavy U.S. squad was to play multiple closed-door scrimmages. It’s unclear whether the federation will be able to arrange such games stateside on short notice.
The friendly against Costa Rica at Dignity Health Sports Park will go on as planned.
Though Doha is 950 miles from Baghdad, where Qasem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. missile attack early Friday, tensions in the region have escalated and U.S. outposts and personnel have braced for retaliatory attacks. Bordered to the south by Saudi Arabia, Qatar occupies a small peninsula sticking into the Persian Gulf.
FIFA’s controversial choice of Qatar to stage the tournament will bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time.
— Steven Goff, Washington Post